Metro Weekly

Drag Story Hour Raises $14,000 Following Bomb Threat

After an Alaskan city's Drag Story Hour received a bomb threat, local businesses rallied to offer support to its host LGBTQ organization.

Seward, Alaska - Photo:
Seward, Alaska – Photo:

A Drag Story Hour event in Alaska was delayed following a bomb threat, but local community members were able to spin straw into gold and, with the help of local businesses, raised over $13,000 to support the LGBTQ group that organized the event.

The Seward Pride Alliance of Seward, Alaska, had planned a Drag Story Hour event for Saturday, June 8, at the Seward Community Library and Museum as part of its Pride Month festivities. While waiting for the event to start, families with children worked on arts and crafts at the library.

But library officials received a call from an unknown person threatening to bomb the story hour, necessitating the evacuation of the library, reports the Homer News.

The Seward Police Department responded, searching the library. They determined there was no incendiary device present.

According to Alaska NPR affiliate KBBI, Seward Deputy Chief of Police Karl Schaefermeyer said that the bomb threat didn’t appear to come from a local resident.

“We’ve been in contact with the FBI, and we’ll continue to track down some leads there and see if we can find out who’s responsible,” he said.

The Drag Queen Story Hour resumed later in the day at the Alaska SeaLife Center.

Attendees listened to stories, including Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, read aloud by local drag performers Totally Tiff and Mars.

“This year, we [were] kind of joking before actually reading that there wasn’t much of a hullabaloo this year, and the turnout wasn’t as large,” Totally Tiff’s alias, Tyler Polo, a board member of the Seward Pride Alliance, told KBBI. “It wasn’t a novel event.”

The Pride Alliance has held various LGBTQ events in Seward for the past five years, with its first Drag Story Hour event launching last year. The Story Hour faced pushback in the town, with some people attempting to steer attendees to an event at Resurrection Bay Baptist Church while anti-drag protesters prayed in hallways. 

“There were a small group of community members who went to a city council meeting before to try to get the event canceled,” Anthony Baclaan, the board president of the Seward Pride Alliance, noted. 

Throughout the country, many drag-related events throughout the country have faced vitriol and threats of violence from opponents of LGBTQ visibility, some of whom have accused drag performers, without evidence, of exposing themselves to children. Alaska is not immune to the trend.

In the city of Soldotna, a drag event was postponed after receiving negative online comments and threats of violence earlier this year. Last year, Drag Queen Story Time event at a library in Ketchikan was canceled due to outcry from locals, reports KBBI.

Even this year, on Friday, one night prior to the Drag Story Hour, Seward Pride Alliance reported that a sign promoting the upcoming Pride festivities was removed in what appears to be a targeted action.

Following the bomb threat, the local community rallied around the Pride Alliance, with five local businesses organizing a fundraiser for the LGBTQ group.

The businesses pledged to each match up to $1,000 in donations, the goal being to raise $10,000.

They set up a GoFundMe page where individuals and other businesses could contribute smaller amounts of money.

Thus far, the crowdfunding campaign has raised $9,150, which, when coupled with the $5,000 pledged by the business coalition, amounts to more than $14,000 raised.

Anthony Baclaan, the Alliance board’s president, told KBBI they are overwhelmed by the support. The funds raised will go toward merchandise like stickers and flags to increase LGBTQ visibility locally and across the state.

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!